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The NBA’s annual Christmas slate awaits. Teams insist it’s special to be picked

by Madison Thomas
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NBA Christmas Day

The anticipation of the NBA’s annual Christmas lineup is palpable, and teams cherish the honor of being selected for this prestigious holiday showcase. Erik Spoelstra, with his extensive experience as a staff member, assistant coach, and head coach for the Miami Heat, understands the significance of playing on Christmas Day. After an absence of several seasons, the Heat are back in the holiday lineup, a testament to the privilege it represents.

Spoelstra reflects on this opportunity: “It is an honor to have that opportunity to play on Christmas. The whole league doesn’t play on the holiday, and there were several years in a row where we were never even considered for playing on Christmas. And then you go back, you almost took it for granted that we were always playing on Christmas.”

This sentiment is shared by other teams, notably the Golden State Warriors, who have become a fixture in the Christmas schedule. Stephen Curry, the Warriors’ star guard, looks forward to the marquee matchups and the challenge they bring. “Marquee games on Christmas, it’s going to be a great atmosphere,” Curry says. “You know, we’ve been in that environment before, so I understand what it’s going to be like. On the road, it’s going to be fun to just compete. It’s a test.”

Traditionally, the Christmas games mark a turning point in the NBA season, drawing increased attention from fans as football winds down, and NBA games are broadcast nationally on ABC or ESPN.

Even LeBron James, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and a veteran of numerous Christmas Day games, prioritizes the joy of watching his 9-year-old daughter Zhuri open her gifts on Christmas morning.

The Heat, like other teams in the lineup, strike a balance between preparation and celebration. Spoelstra ensures that players have time to enjoy the holiday as they wish, recognizing that these Christmas victories hold special significance.

In terms of historical Christmas success, the Lakers lead the way with 24 wins, closely followed by the Knicks with 23. LeBron James aims to secure his 11th Christmas victory, which would establish a new record.

Among active players, Kevin Durant is second in Christmas appearances, set to make his 11th appearance as the Suns face the Mavericks.

Erik Spoelstra, with an impeccable 8-0 record as a head coach on Christmas, seeks to join an elite group of coaches with nine holiday wins. This group includes luminaries like Jack Ramsay, Phil Jackson, Gene Shue, and Red Auerbach.

This year’s Christmas lineup sees nine out of the ten teams returning from last year, highlighting the consistency and appeal of these matchups. The Lakers continue their remarkable streak, appearing on the Christmas schedule for the 25th consecutive year, while the Golden State Warriors make their 11th consecutive appearance.

Notable milestones are also on the horizon, as Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks aims to reach 10,000 career points, potentially tying Bob McAdoo for the sixth-quickest player to achieve this milestone in NBA history.

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant is poised to join the exclusive club of players with 300 points scored on Christmas, a list that includes LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Oscar Robertson, and Dwyane Wade.

Some teams, like Charlotte, have never played on Christmas, while others, such as Sacramento, Indiana, Detroit, Orlando, Chicago, and San Antonio, have experienced a prolonged drought in holiday appearances.

As the NBA’s Christmas Day extravaganza approaches, anticipation and excitement are building among players, coaches, and fans alike, making it a true holiday tradition for basketball enthusiasts.

For more NBA news and updates, visit AP NBA.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NBA Christmas Day

What is the significance of the NBA’s Christmas Day lineup?

The NBA’s Christmas Day lineup is a prestigious showcase of marquee matchups, drawing increased fan attention as it coincides with the winding down of the football season. It’s an honor for teams to be selected for these holiday games.

How do teams and players view the opportunity to play on Christmas?

Teams and players highly value the chance to play on Christmas Day. It’s seen as an honor and a privilege, and they relish the competitive atmosphere and the challenge that comes with these high-profile games.

Who are some of the notable players with impressive Christmas Day records?

LeBron James leads in terms of both games played and victories on Christmas Day. He prioritizes family and watching his daughter open gifts but remains a key figure in these holiday games. Kevin Durant is another notable player with numerous Christmas appearances and impressive performances.

Are there any historical milestones or records associated with Christmas Day games?

Yes, historical milestones often occur during Christmas Day games. Luka Doncic is close to reaching 10,000 career points, potentially making him one of the fastest players to achieve this milestone. LeBron James aims to break the record for the most Christmas Day victories by a player.

How do teams balance preparation and celebration on Christmas Day?

Teams, led by their coaches like Erik Spoelstra, strike a balance between preparing for the game and allowing players to enjoy the holiday with their families. They recognize the significance of these Christmas victories but also value the holiday spirit.

Which teams are consistently featured in the NBA’s Christmas Day lineup?

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors are among the most consistent participants in the Christmas Day lineup, often making appearances year after year. Other teams, such as Boston, Milwaukee, and Dallas, have also become regular fixtures.

Are there teams that have never played on Christmas Day?

Yes, some teams, like Charlotte, have never been selected for Christmas Day games. Additionally, several franchises have experienced lengthy droughts without holiday appearances, including Sacramento, Indiana, Detroit, Orlando, Chicago, and San Antonio.

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